A Passion for Fashion: A Liverpool Lady's Wardrobe is on from 29 April to 30 July 2006 at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. This looks wonderful - 130 items selected from the wardrobe of Emily Tinne, an ordinary (if middle-class and prosperous) Liverpool woman, donated to National Museums Liverpool by her daughter.
The exhibition is displaying clothing, shoes and accessories worn by Emily Tinne and her children between about 1910 and 1940, along with info about where many of the items came from and what shopping in Liverpool was like in this era. Sadly I doubt I'll get to see this - it's 250 miles away and I'm not planning to head up north again this year. It looks so good though - am salivating just looking through the online photo gallery.
I love this type of exhibition - where you can see the clothes and accessories of one person, and note how their taste changed (or didn't) over time, and what styles and colours they favoured over the years.
Of course, this sort of collection relies on the person stopping wearing things before they wear out, and hanging on to stuff which they've gone off, or grown too big or small for, AND having the storage space - which usually means someone middle or upper class.
In a similar vein but higher up the social ladder is Brighton Museum and Art Gallery's Fashion and Fancy Dress: The Messel Family Dress Collection 1865-2005 (on until 16 July 2006), an exhibition of gorgeous womenswear from six generations of the artistic and aristocratic Messel family.